Grounded in ‘tree’ house

The house architect Robyn Bilkey started designing for this 1660sq m site bordering Scarborough Reserve wasn’t going to be for her and civil engineer husband Alan. They’d bought it in 2009 with the aim of selling it on, new house and all.

“But then we realised just how special it was down here with all the trees and the native birds flying around, and the privacy,” says Robyn. “We got hooked on the idea of living here ourselves.”

The house needed to be both a light-filled, warm home and workplace for them both, its design taking advantage of the bush setting and its age-old nikau trees.Alan employed builders he’d been impressed with when project-managing a build for a friend. The result artfully evokes a sense of living in a tree house in central Auckland.The local French market is minutes away; so is Parnell Rd, along a pathway that snakes through bush at the rear of their property.

The house was completed in 2014. Its exterior is precast concrete with horizontal cedar in random thicknesses creating texture and blending the building with its environment.

Turning space for cars outside the double garage doubles as additional off-street parking. Robyn designed the home to turn its back to the driveway for privacy, presenting an understated single-storey frontage.

This heightens the impact when visitors enter to discover a two-storey home worshipping its leafy outlook through floor-to-ceiling windows and a double-height atrium, topping 5m at its peak. Alan says: “Everyone who walks in goes ‘gosh!'”

Stairs ascend to the kitchen-dining-living expanse, with soaring glass through which to admire the trees along its northern and western sides. It’s Robyn’s favourite space.

She says: “Some of the nikaus would be more than 100 years old. I just love the texture, shading and light created by their fronds.”

“And it’s a space which works well, whether we’ve got two friends over, or a crowd.”

It opens to a deck partially topped with an electronically adjustable louvre roof.

The interior showcases shuttered and polished concrete, exposed steelwork and Tasmanian oak. There’s oak in the entertainer’s kitchen and its battened ceiling, which has sound-absorbing properties.

Alan says: “It’s such a restful place to be. We sit here and watch tui and keruru flitting around the trees.”

Downstairs has predominantly polished concrete floors with under-floor heating throughout. There’s a gas fireplace in the lounge, one of pet cat Bruno’s favourite spots.

Robyn says: “It feels like we don’t have neighbours on three sides, because Scarborough Reserve is to the north, there’s so much of our own land to the east, and only the rear section of a private property to the south.”

A northern wing can pretty much be shut off. It would suit teenagers and was handy when the Bilkeys’ three adult children, who mostly lived overseas, enjoyed holidays here.

The wing contains a second living area opening to the deck, two bedrooms and a bathroom. A powder room and laundry-storage room with butler’s pantry capability complete downstairs.

Lush outlooks continue upstairs where the master bedroom with walk-in-wardrobe and en suite looks down on a canopy of nikau fronds.

Alan uses a fourth bedroom as his office, while Robyn’s office and a storage room are off the carpeted garage.

The Bilkeys have favoured natives in planting they’ve done around the house and have no lawn.

The couple anticipate having more building adventures, no longer needing as much space now their children all live in Auckland.

• 4 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, 2 parking spaces.
• land 1660sq m, house 309sq m.
• Inspect: Call for viewing times.
• Auction: 5pm Oct 31, (unless sold prior) at 411 Remuera Rd, Remuera.
• Schools: Parnell District School, Auckland Grammar, Epsom Girls’ Grammar.
• Contact: Steen Nielsen, 027 557 8336, Ray White

NZ Herald

‘Breakthrough’ plan to tackle NZ’s vanishing nature

Councils shouldn’t be forced by law, but rather encouraged, to map and protect biodiversity hot-spots in their districts, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) argues.

Under draft recommendations just proposed by the cross-sector working group, now being reviewed by the Government, councils would be directed to map in their plans “significant natural areas” for biodiversity.

Further, the Biodiversity Collaborative Group (BCG) recommended councils be made to ensure that any subdivision or development within one of these areas avoid harming or disrupting species living within them.

It also encouraged councils to protecting wetlands, restore natural cover in areas where it had been depleted, carry out surveys of species that moved between habitats and consider the impacts of climate change.

If progressed, councils would be required to work with tangata whenua, landowners and the wider community to set local targets and strategies.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council chair and head of LGNZ’s regional group, Doug Leeder, welcomed the recommendations.

But he questioned whether councils should be regulated to undertake the work.

Leeder said protecting biodiversity involved working with private landowners who were voluntarily contributing, and bringing in new regulation could compromise that.

Further, he said, councils varied in size and some rural councils covered large areas but didn’t have the resources of urban councils with bigger rates bases.

The BCG – made up of organisations including Federated Farmers, Forest & Bird, the Environmental Defence Society and the Iwi Chairs Forum – however recommended that smaller councils be assisted with central Government resourcing where it was required.

The recommendations comprised a proposed new National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPS-IB).

National policy statements act as rulebooks that set out bottom lines for councils making plans under the Resource Management Act.

While statements have already been put in place for freshwater management, urban development and renewable electricity, this was the first time one had been drafted to save New Zealand’s declining native biodiversity.

BGC trustee and Forest & Bird lawyer Sally Gepp described the 18-month process as a “breakthrough” – there had been several unsuccessful attempts under previous governments to write bottom-line rules for biodiversity.

“Just as importantly, the group has collaborated to identify measures beyond the NPS-IB that should make a real difference for our native species and ecosystems.”

Federated Farmers board member Chris Allen said the group had agreed a “step-change” was needed to conserve the country’s declining species for future generations.

“With a significant proportion of New Zealand’s remaining indigenous biodiversity on private land, we want to enable local communities and landowners to continue their great conservation work on the ground, while also giving them certainty and clarity through more effective RMA plans.”

Gepp said New Zealand continued to lose its unique flora and fauna, largely due to habitat loss and introduced pests.

Of our native species, 81 per cent of birds, 72 per cent of freshwater fish, 88 per cent of reptiles, 76 per cent of marine invertebrates and 39 per cent of vascular plants are either threatened or at risk of extinction.

It was already too late for 32 per cent of our land birds and 18 per cent of our seabirds, along with 12 invertebrates, possibly 11 plants, a fish, a bat and perhaps three known reptiles.

“Without clear, directive policy, it can be hard for decision-makers to see the cumulative impact of incremental habitat loss,” Gepp said.

“The draft National Policy Statement is intended to help to provide a national perspective ensure native species, ecosystems and habitats are front of mind in decision-making about how people use, develop and protect natural resources.”

The effort stood separate to work on a new national biodiversity strategy, announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage last month.

NZ Herald

Harmony with nature

Nathan Lodge of Coastline Construction Group was completing a “spec” build in Tindalls Bay when he and his wife Kerri went for a wander. The area reminded them of where they had grown up on the North Shore, in the 1970s.

Impressed with the beautiful beaches of Matakatia and Tindall’s Bay “just a hop, skip and jump away”, as well as the proximity to shops and excellent schools, they started talking about buying here.

About 100m from the beach, they came across an original 65-year-old bach, a deceased estate that had come up for sale.

Though they didn’t move on it straight away, they were curious to know what it had sold for at auction, so they rang the agent.

Fortuitously, it had been passed in. So they made an offer and, to their delight, it was accepted.

After renting the property for several years, they approached Matt Hagan of Red Rabbit Architecture to design a modern coastal family home with plenty of sunny indoor/outdoor living.

“We didn’t like the generic paint and weatherboard look. We wanted to use natural timbers where we could,” says Nathan.

“We were really trying to capture the light and those beautiful north-east-facing ocean views. We wanted open-plan living and big, spacious rooms, not just the standard height ceiling.”

Everything in the house, he says, is oversized with generous rooms, large windows and sliders that open to expansive decks enclosed with glass balustrades — 150sq m in total.

They were keen also to recycle timber from the old bach to add a sense of provenance. It took a lot of work –— “a lot more than people appreciate” — turning un-machined heart rimu that had been in the house for 65 years into a beautiful staircase that rises from the entry to the generous entertaining area above.

Natural timber abounds throughout, complementing the heart rimu with solid European oak floors in the living area, on the kitchen cabinetry and under the kitchen island, as well as in the bathrooms.

Although the design is open-plan, Nathan likes the fact it has quiet spaces “where we can get away from each other”, including a second living area especially for the kids, central to the four upstairs bedrooms.

Having a large rumpus downstairs with a third bathroom adds another versatile place. It is filled with light and looks out to surrounding decks and lawns. “There is a whole lot of outdoor living in this house,” says Nathan.

Everything went to plan during the building process, apart from dealing with Mother Nature and the costs, says Nathan. Unfortunately, it worked out too expensive for the Lodge family, so they won’t be moving in.

However, he recalls some great moments, especially after they removed the old house, laid the foundations and got up and looked at that view. “You can see the ferries coming and going and the boats from the marina. The view is always changing.”

Nathan says neighbours were amazing throughout the build. “They made it easy. It’s a fantastic little community here with a shopping hub 500m away at Manly — an iconic Whangaparaoa town.”

He also recalls interesting finds under the floorboards. “We found some old newspapers with an article from 1960 with complaints about contractors delaying the start of the international airport. There were so many jobs in the situations vacant with some very un-PC advertisements that you just couldn’t get away with these days.”

• 5 bedrooms, 3 bathroom, 2* parking spaces.
• Land 809sq m, house 349sq m, plus 100sq m decking and patio.
• Price: $1,600,000-plus. Sale by negotiation.
• Inspect: Sun 2-2.30pm or by appointment.
• Auction: Oct 6, noon, on site (unless sold prior).
• Schools: Whangaparoa Primary, Gulf Harbour Primary, Whangaparaoa College & Wentworth College.
• Contact: Calvin Howarth, 021 0278 0341. [email protected],

NZ Herald

Reasons that will convince you to pick a retirement village

Moving to a new retirement village will be a huge decision and it will give you the new lease of your life in the later years. When you are picking the perfect village it will offer you with several advantages that will help you to stay in a peace of mind at your old age and it will make your life more sociable, easier as well as enjoyable. So if you are confused about whether you should pick a retirement village or not then these few reasons are surely going to convince you to invest in Retirement Villages.


  1. Retirement Villages are going to provide you with the top-notch facilities starting from swimming pools, spas, cafes, hair salons to even restaurants. You can also have a beautifully landscaped garden along with well maintained outdoor areas which will provide you with the perfect view from your house.


  1. Houses similar to family home are too big to live in when you are growing old. So if you and your wife or few people are living at a house then you should definitely move to the retirement village. It will not only save the maintenance cost but these apartments are well equipped that will make your life after retirement very easy. So running a property like that will be more cost-effective and you won’t have to face problems regarding maintenance issue.


  1. If you are thinking of moving to a new house by selling your previous house then you can invest some money in a place in the retirement village because it will help you instill owning your house. So you will also get the benefit from the house price that will rise in the future and it will become an asset of yours.
  1. You will be given various opportunities of being independent if you are living in a retirement village. You have the liberty of welcoming guest and going outside or coming to your house at any time of the day.
  1. The retirement villages are so well constructed that it is quite nearby to the public transport, hospitals, police station, local stores, entertainment etc.
  1. The best part of settling in a retirement village is you can easily cater to all your needs whenever you need.
  1. In a retirement village, you will be allowed to stay with your other half if you want. When you are comparing it with the residential homes, it is not possible there unless both of them needs to stay together for going into the care.


  1. The security of the retirement villages is very strong and it is a very secure place for living as you can easily avail emergency help.


These few points are enough for convincing a people why retirement villages have become so popular nowadays and why people are opting for this option. It is more of a lifestyle change than an investment. If you want the later stages of your life to be secure, easy and enjoyable then retirement villages are the best thing that you can do for yourself.

Why should you create flags to advertise your business?

In the present industrial world, most of the companies are insisting on various digital mediums to display or advertise their product. Flagmaker is one such company that has been working with good devotion and sincerity. The traditional advertising system is slowly vanishing and the new ones are coming in the way. If you pass by a street you will observe that there are banners or balloons or hoarding on your way. They are just the best mode of advertising any product or item. There are ample reasons why one should create and use flags for your business.

Branding or advertising for 24x 7:

If you use the digital mode of advertisement, then there will be a certain time for it and after some time it will be stopped. But by using the flags you can advertise the item for an unlimited period. It is just an awesome way of advertisement.

Reasonable and low mode of investment:

Flags are generally considered to be a perfect way of advertisement and that too at a very low cost. By investing a small amount of money you can easily make good profits and also good branding of a product. It is the only reason why more and more people are trying to opt for this.

Versatile mode of advertisement:

Flags and banner are the main assets of a business. It simply implies that if you use such flags then it can be used for a long time without any damage or problem. If you pay once, then you can enjoy its benefits for an unlimited phase.

Get the flexibility with designs:

Most of the flags are very flexible in nature. You can use multiple words in a flag. Apart from all this, if you prefer a row, then you can easily include a lot of information about the promotion or branding. But in most of the cases, it is suggested to not to overload the flag with irrelevant information.

Multiple uses of flags:

The most important part of a flag is that it can be used for various purposes. Whether it is for branding or informing about any grand opening or product launches or even for public relation campaigns, then the flags can be the perfect mode of advertisement. Simply place it at any place and you will notice the changes immediately. It can be viewed by anyone and at any time. So, most of the companies are trying to grab this opportunity.

In short, there are ample reasons by which more and more companies are indulging towards adopting this means of advertisement. Even during a few years back people had limited options. But as time passed people slowly realized its importance and tried to use it in a unique way. Flags have now turned out to be the most convenient way of advertising and product launching. In case of any events, most of the companies firstly prefer the flags. Then they hire the agencies who are engaged in the service of decorating the flags in the best possible way.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of Bubble Tea?

Tea is the most popular beverage in the whole world. There are different variants of this beverage and one of the popular variants is known as bubble tea. Let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of drinking this tea.

Following are the advantages of Bubble tea

  • As we know that Bubble tea is a Taiwanese tea recipe. This is known for its best health effects. The first thing that it does is the boost in energy. The ingredients in this tea are so nutritious and refreshing that after drinking this tea a person can feel very fresh and can give a good start to his or her day. Although the ingredients of this tea include sugar, it is sometimes good to give a good speed to your metabolism rate. As this tea already has sugar in it, you do not need to add extra sugar.
  • Along with the energy boost, this tea has other good properties to. Regular drinking of this tea protects you from many diseases and can give good protection to your immune system. Many of us do not know that green tea is a type of bubble tea, but we all know the good things that green tea does to our bodies. Drinking green tea on a regular basis can detox our body in the best way. The antioxidants that this tea has do not allow oxidized stress to come to your body and therefore increases the immunity. Along with that, you can even add certain fruits to the tea to have added benefits.
  • Before understanding about this benefit we will first need to understand what a free radical is. Free radicals are one of the parts of our body that keeps on floating inside. The increase of these free radicals can cause damage to our body and can lead to chronic disease like cancer. If you are a regular drinker of green bubble tea, then this can prevent your body from facing any such damage. This is by far one of the best benefits of drinking bubble tea.

Disadvantages of drinking bubble tea

  • We already saw the benefits if bubble tea and from that, we know that this is a beneficial beverage for our health, but drinking this tea regularly can have various side effects also. The first loss that our body faces with the regular serving of this tea is the weight gain. As we have already mentioned that has sugar in it. So, adding extra sugar is not recommended at all.
  • Along with the weight gain, a person who is drinking bubble tea on a regular basis can become diabetic. It is about calorie If the calorie is not maintained properly, then there are chances that one can have diabetes with the regular serving of this tea.

So, these were the advantages and disadvantages of drinking bubble tea. One should know about his or her body functions before having this tea.

How To Hire An AV Service?

AV or Audio Visual is the widespread use of both light and sound to carry out a message given out within a presentation. A presentation is usually given out using a slide projector which connects a PC to a large white screen. To get all the things and components right, it is important to choose the perfect AV service; whether it is a local AV hire Auckland or from someplace else. So here’s the best process one can adapt to hire an AV service for their needs:

Be Ready With Objectives

The very first things which you should take care of understand what you and your event need from an AV company. Along with this, you should also know how they relate to your overall objectives of the event. To get started you can ask yourself questions like who are the people who will be attending the event, what type of tone do you want the event to have and what will be the wanted outcome to such an event. These questions will help the AV service set up the tone of the function accordingly. Like, if you have an energetic audience and theme, then incorporating Projection Mapping can work.

Know the difference your wants and needs

Now that your objectives are in proper order, it’s time for you to take a look at the list and then sort them based on simple criteria of wants vs. needs. This mainly should be done for cost reasons. AV services can get expensive with the need to use various gears so once you outline what you absolutely need, it’s time to get outlining again. This time you will have to search out the estimated cost. Apart from this, this kind of sorting will help in incorporating new types of ways to keep audience engagement.

Time to hire

Now it’s time to look at various AV companies. When hiring them to get to know how much time will they need in regards to set up, if they will need to do any practice runs to make things run smoothly, how much time will be needed to take down the whole set etc. Once hired, make sure the AV company works with the presenters from as early as they can so that any issues related to the presentations can be sorted fast.

Take care of the challenges

The process of hiring an AV company isn’t all that easy as well. There are challenges which one has to encounter while deciding upon the service which is best for their business. Some factors to consider are that hiring one out-of-the-house service might actually be cheaper even though an in-house service can turn out to be convenient. Apart from this consider the fact that you would want to hire a service which makes a good impact and knows their business and job well.

These steps will help you better tackle the job of hiring an AV service which will work well for the event and the organization as a whole.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a fire engineer?

We all must have come across through some fire accidents. The person behind the rescue operation of the people stuck in these fireplaces is called a fire engineer. He performs a lot of duties. Let’s have a look at them.

To provide technical support to the staffs and team members

He is basically the guide of the whole team. His main work is to give technical support to the staffs working in the field. The firemen who work in the field is expert in using the tools that are provided to him, but he is not responsible for any issues that come in the functioning of any equipment. This is the duty of the fire engineer to take care of the functionality of the equipment required in the projects.

To inspect each and every equipment

If you talk about the fire station, then there is a complete set up where all the apparatus and equipments is placed already. Anyone can call anytime for help and a complete truck could proceed for helping. It is the work of a fire engineer that he examines the equipments that are there on the truck properly before it leaves the fire station.

To operate heavy and important machines

The selection of machines depends on the amount of fire that a particular place has caught. If a place has caught minimum fire, then all the machines are not required. In case of big fire cases, big machines like airbags, hydraulically powered cutters and cutters, special saws etc. are required.  A fire engineer is asked to go with the team to operate these equipments.

To deal with the hazardous incidents

You must have come across several incidents where a long building caught fire and a lot of people get stuck in that. This is considered as one of those incidents that could not be taken under control by the normal staff. So, for these incidents, fire engineers are required. The reason behind this is that heavy machine is used in these cases and they could only be operated by fire engineers.

To participate in various training programs

A fire protection program is definitely a fieldwork and people working in it needs a lot of training. There are different forms of trainings that the staff of a fire station goes through like physical training, training related to the operation of different tools and machines. It is the duty of a fire engineer to participate in all these trainings. He or she sometimes acts as a trainer also.

To respond to post-accident scenes

Apart from these things there are a lot of other activities that a fire engineer goes through like responding to the accident scenes. Reason behind this is that he has the knowledge of things that should done after accident. So, even if he is not at the time of the accident, he visits the place after it.

So, these were the list of a few of the duties that a fire engineer performs.

How to buy diamond rings online?


In this era when everything is done online, we still have doubts. This doubts increases, when we are going to shop a diamond ring for ourselves. In this article, we will talk about this in detail. Before you go and select a ring for yourself on any online store, you need to follow certain steps and these are the following:

  • You must be sure about your finger size. For this, you will have to first decide the finger in which you are going to wear the diamond ring. Now, this is advisory to decide the finger after doing a quick research about it. You can simply search that if you are wearing just one ring, then in which finger you should wear it. After you have decided the finger of yours, you will definitely know the size that you need. This will help you in leading your search in a definite and focused direction.


  • After you have confirmed the size of your ring, search for the design you want. Now, there are various ways in which you can select a design for yourself. You could simply search for the designs on the internet. For this, referral to a particular site is not necessary. You just need to Google the images. Apart from this, you can go to the particular website from which you are going to buy the ring and then search for various designs. If you are not satisfied with the designs available, you can order to make the ring according to the design you like. You can refer to the designs of diamond rings in Auckland to get some best picks.


  • After the size and the design selection, you need to decide your budget. The world is becoming very organized and we have the solution for each and everything that is there. If you have some low budget, then also you do not have to worry, as there are sites where you can buy any kind of ring priced at affordable ranges. Now, obviously the quality of the product will hamper, but you will definitely get the real diamonds. So, decide a budget before you go for shopping diamond rings online. You can make your work easier by deciding the carat that you want for your rings.


  • After you have done these important works, you need to do a little research about the online stores, which provide diamond rings. Now, there certain things like the loyalty, quality, and stuff that you need to see on the website. To confirm that the website is good enough, you will have to read the reviews that are there. Once you get the confirmation that the website is good, go ahead and shop hard.

Diamond rings are very precious and expensive; therefore we cannot take the chance before buying it and if you are buying it online, the risk increases. So, one needs to take care of all the above points, before shopping from an online store.

Traits that will help you to spot a good mortgage broker

Recently an incredible change has been encountered in the industry of mortgage broker and they are now offering improved services. Many people are aware of how mortgage broker will provide their assistance which is completely invaluable when it comes to obtaining their house loan. As the market is always saturated with several mortgage brokers in Auckland so you need to pick the right one from the heap by spotting the traits that are mentioned below.


  • Every good mortgage broker will have the license and it must be linked with the National Consumer Credit Protection Act. Hiring someone with a license will provide you with a better authentication and a simpler process.
  • There are several companies who are providing good mortgage brokers. Always try to collaborate with the brokers who are from any professional industry.


  • If you are unable to pick from the list of available mortgage broker then you can definitely ask for the recommendation from your family or friends.
  • One of the aspects of arranging any loan is to find cheaper rates. A good mortgage broker who has been in this field for a very long time will discuss the entire goal and a mortgage plan with you and pick the loan that can fit with your present situation.
  • There are many brokers who have a healthy relationship with several lenders and when you will collaborate with them, they allow reliable lenders to work with you. A skilled mortgage broker will be fluent with the processes and the criteria of lending of different financial institutions.


  • When a person is applying for the home loan or the refinancing then it is quite stressful for them. This is one of the reasons why people look for skilled brokers who can assist them throughout the entire process.
  • Transparency is what a skilled mortgage broker will provide. They will definitely get a certain percentage of money after they have completed helping you to sanction the loan. So until and unless the entire process is getting completed they will work for you without charging any price.


  • Most of the skilled mortgage broker will always plan to assist you in the future and that is why they believe in long term commitment.
  • Mortgages are considered to be a complex financial decision. People always hire brokers who are detail oriented and will not leave a loophole in the entire process.
  • A good mortgage broker will not help everyone to sanction their loan. They know the proper protocols and will only help people who have proper documentation.

These are the few features that make a mortgage broker a skilled one. There are many mortgage brokers who are working with bigger companies and your target should be those brokers. A mortgage broker who has the capability of simplifying the entire task is the right person. Check for their experience and ask for the list of people they have worked with. Doing some own research and background check is going to be fruitful for you in the long run because mortgages can be quite tricky if not dealt properly in the first place.